Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Citezens or Subjects? Interventionism

One might ask the question: what is the differance between a citezen and a subject? My definition of a citezen is the legal recognition of the sovereignty of the individual, and my definition of a subject is the lack of this recognition. Citezenship is not determined by voting or mere governmental decree of a title. A voter can be treated as a subject as much as a non-voter can, and a title in itself does not bestow sovereignty. If a government does not legally recognize the sovereignty of the individual, then it has no citezens, only subjects at the mercy of the arbitrary whims of those who constitute the ruling apparatus. It doesn't matter if it's a monarchy, democracy, republic or parlaiment.

What exactly is the sovereignty of the individual? In it's purest and most axoimatic form, the definition is as follows: each individual has a right to do as pleases so long as they do not initiate aggression against the person or property of others (which, in a sense, is the exact same moral precept as the biblical phrase "do unto others as you would have them do to you") . It logically follows that each individual has a right to not have aggression used against their person or property. Any action that initiates aggression against others is defacto in violation of individual sovereignty. This idea is essentially morality 101, and it requires no religion or special knowledge to understand and adopt. It is a self-evident and instinctive law, a logical and naturally arising axoim.

Based on such criterion, we may explore wether governments are citezen-rearing or subject-rearing. It first must be established that the very nature of any government inherently makes the prospect of 100% individual sovereignty impossible. This is because a government inherently requires a number of violations of it in order to exist and maintain its existance in the first place. It must recieve revenue from somewhere, and thus it must use the taxing power to coercively conscript money from the populace, under the threat of the use of violence (some minarchist libertarians contend that a government can use voluntary "user fees" or "donations" instead of taxes to get around this problem, but I have not looked into the matter enough to come to a fully informed conclusion on the question). Another fundamental problem is that any government must constitute a "ruling class" in comparison to the populace, which invitably encroaches on individual sovereignty. Further, this ruling class inherently constitutes a monopoly of power and force, of ultimate decision making within a given territory, which inevitably is going to violate the individual's sovereignty in some way or another.

The determining factor is the degree to which individual sovereignty exists in a society in all of its individual facets and counterparts. Each individual aspect of the population's life needs to be independantly analized as to how much individual sovereignty pervades. The cumulative result of all of analizing these individual aspects of life can give us an insight into the overall degee of individual sovereignty that exists under the rule of a given government. Obviously, a serious study encompassing every individual in this way is completely impossible. But general deductions can easily be made about the general population based on many governmental actions that more or less apply to everyone.

While we have conceded that a government must inherently violate individual sovereignty in some way, the ideal government (assuming that we want to have one) under our criterion would be one in which individual sovereignty exists as much as possible, in which it is maximized to the extent that the government barely exists. The most common manifestation of this is principle that the government should limit itself completely (or close to it) to defense, enforcement of criminal law against acts of violence and fraud, and access to a fair and impartial legal system. The ideal citezenship is thus a situation in which the government's only legitimate legal function is to protect the people from aggression against their person and property. Consequentially, the people under a government are subjects to the extent that this function is abandoned and replaced with other functions.

What kind of picture can we deduce of the degree of individual sovereignty in the United States? Are we citezens or subjects? Well, it really depends on which aspect of life and government we are dealing with. Let's start with different aspects of economics. In terms of tax rates, we have increasingly raised the tax burden by quite large amounts, yet despite this we still have relatively low taxes in comparison to many other countries. In terms of redisribution, America has had an ever-expanding welfare state ever since the progressive era, and ironically this welfare state has been shifting the direction of favoring buisinesses and the rich. However, America's welfare state still pales in comparison to the record of communist countries. In terms of private ownership of the means of production, somewhere around 90 percent of the means of production in America is still private, although this has been nibbled at slowly by the practise of government contracting buisinesses (which is the model of economic fascism or "corporatism", and replaces genuine private ownership with neo-feudalism or neo-mercantalism).

Despite the fact that the means of production are still largely private in America, it's genuine nature is eroded through heavy regulation - private property in America, while it still in large part exists, is simply over-regulated. In terms of government spending and inflation, the American budget and money supply has done almost nothing but baloon into the heavens since WWI and WWII, which has more or less lead to a perpetual "hyper-inflation" cycle (I.E. there is a recession while the money supply is continueing to increase) in the present. America has adopted a policy of borrowing huge sums of money from nations abroad, and hence has created a dangerously monstrous debt. While America has persued free trade more in comparison to many nations, it nonetheless suffers from growing protectionism that is selective in nature. Unionism has managed to bestow us with the virus of domestic protectionism, although it is heartening to see that some people, even on the left, are starting to become very critical of unions.

What about personal liberties? In terms of prohibition, America is largely free of prohibition in the realm of most material necessities and wants, while simultanously it has drug prohibition, medicine prohibition, prostitution prohibition, smoking prohibition, suicide prohibition, "assisted suicide" (I.E. people who are dieing or are in a catatonic state who have willed themselves to be "unplugged" by a doctor) prohibition and now there is even a call for sweeping food prohibition by radical environmentalists (of course all we are doing here is literally illegalizing productive jobs, voluntary exchange between individuals and actions of dealing with what to put into one's own body). Fortunately, governmentally enforced racism is over at least on the national level, although it can easily be detected in certain places on the local level.

In terms of law enforcement, we don't yet have a police state but the current laws on the books declare them to be the legal precedent of the federal government and various state governments. Americans are simply lucky that many of these laws haven't been fully applied or enforced yet (political interprations of such legislation by politicians and bereaucrats in future inevitably opens up a pandora's box for "civil liberties" violations). Further, the American legal system for the most part fails to adequately compensate victims, while simultanously spending more time criminalizing innocent people than going after real criminals. Half, if not more, of the people in American prisons are innocent, non-violent individuals - mostly victims of the drug war or defectors from the military. There has been a growing danger in the judicial system of allowing judges to act as ex post facto legislators.

While there are some instances of ridiculous political correctness in the media and government, America still largely retains a free press (particularly on the internet) in comparison to many other countries, although this has been encroached upon slowly through censorship and corporate-government relationships (I.E. economic fascism). For the most part, Americans are free to practise or not practise religion, however, to a limited extent the "religious right" groups have gotten the government to subsidize religious institutions (which is harmful both to the tax-payer who has no connection to or care for those institutions and the religious institutions themselves, since such institutions are now bound by political considerations). Executive powers in America have done nothing but centralize and increase. The American government has been almost in a perpetual state of war since after WWII, and has thus been responsible for the deaths of unimaginable numbers of both soldiers and foreign peoples. The American government selectively props up foreign dictatorships while selectively being economically "isolationist" with certain nations.

America is currently entering the latter/advanced stages of "interventionism", a "mixed system", which when continued over enough time gives way to either the German/Italian socialist pattern (otherwise known as fascism) or the Russian/Marxist-Stalinist socialist pattern (otherwise known as communism). The system has been starting to tip the scale in favor of statism for quite some time, but still has some forces retaining a shallow "middle ground". In some respects, Americans are incredibly lucky, and in other aspects they are profusely plundered. In certain limited areas, America is still the freest country in the world, yet this claim does not really apply when we exit those limited areas. America still retains some limited degree of its capitalist and classical liberal "roots", while completely abandoning it in individual areas. The process of interventionism is one in which these "caviats" increase in virtual direct proportion to the new or worsened problems created by the interventions. And thus, interventionism inherently leads towards some form of statism.

It is notable that the current U.S. government actually rears the least individual sovereignty with regaurd to how it treats people abroad with its foreign policy (with all of its wars, sanctions, blockades and foreign aid). Its foreign policy expenditures are considerably larger than its domestic expenditures (despite the balooning of domestic social spending that has taken place) because it has adopted a pattern of foreign interventionism. Americans are both citezens and subjects, depending on what area we are dealing with. There is an inescapable danger of allowing this interventionist system to progress into a pattern of socialism, and in particular we are tipping in the direction of right-wing socialism. America hs been moving in the direction of the fascist pattern. It should be emphasized that this trend did not initially start any time recently, the seeds were planted long ago in sucessive steps and are still being planted by people of power. This trend can and should be reversed. The state should be forced into a position where it confines itself to the defense of person and property. Any step beyond this will lead to interventionist, and eventually totalitarian, patterns.

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